Author: Kara Taylor
Series: Prep School Confidential #1
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Date: July 2013
Buy the Book • Goodreads
In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.
Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn't care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.
When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.
I was immediately drawn to the premise of Prep School Confidential. I love ‘boarding school’ books and mysteries, so it seemed like a great fit! I’m pleased to say that this book is an entertaining mystery read, perfect for fans of Gossip Girl and Night School.
Anne Dowling, a true blue Upper East Sider, is banished to a prestigious boarding school near Boston after she accidentally sets her school on fire. At first determined to get through the year with her head down and be back in Manhattan as soon as possible, everything is turned upside down when her new roommate was murdered. The rest of the school is eerily quiet about the matter, so it’s up to Anne to investigate and find out the truth behind Isabella’s death.
Anne was an extremely charming narrator. It would be easy to peg her as a spoiled brat given her privileged background, but I thought she was really down to earth and funny. Her popularity stems from her being naturally charismatic, not because of any ‘Mean Girls’ tendencies. She is also probably the only character in the book that really cared about justice for Isabella, which means her moral compass was pointing in the right direction. Sure, she’s impulsive and she got herself into a lot of threatening situations by not thinking things through, but I liked her spunk. I also was a fan of her decision in the obligatory love triangle stakes.
The mood of the story transitioned from cheery boarding school contemporary to sombre murder mystery once Isabella died. That said, the book flowed really well and I wasn’t bored at any point. It was a fun, fast read—I finished it in a couple of days. I found myself invested in solving the crime and finding out who Isabella’s killer was. I also loved all the secrets about the boarding school that started unravelling further into Anne’s investigation. Mystery wise, I think the author did a great job with presenting so many possible suspects as I was kept guessing until the very end.
While Anne was extremely well developed, I thought there could’ve been more characterisation of the supporting characters. I was confused as there were far too many students mentioned and they all started to get muddled up in my head, especially as the majority of them had fairly nondescript personalities.
That said, if you are a fan of boarding school books or YA murder mysteries, then this isn’t one to miss. I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel to read more as I hope the conspiracy theories keep flowing!